Chile! Southern Hemisphere, long and skinny, islands and Pacific Coast and the Andes Mountains. We start in Santiago, the capital and major city. In the traditional town square is an impressive hulk of a cathedral.
In the main square we saw this street performer making his skeleton dance. Not his skeleton, but... well, you understand.
In Santiago, we hiked up and over a major hill with a huge statue of the Virgin Mary, this castle, and a beautiful wordland park.
At the end of the hike, we ended up in this new, modern part of town with one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere.
Near Santiago, on the coast, is Valpariso. We spent a great day there, hiking up and down the hills and enjoying the architecture. We also toured the poet Pablo Neruda's house. It has a great view over the ocean, from high up on a hill.
In both Santiago and Valpariso, there is a lot of official public art and cool, comic style art on houses and businesses. Here's a selection.
Next stop: Atacama, in the arid north of Chile, high in the Andes. We did a day trip to a thermally active area. We left so early we arrived just before dawn. It was surreal to wander through this landscape as the sun rose.
Some interesting rock formations in the Valley of the Moon called the Three Marias.
A few kilometers down the road from Atacama is a salt lake that is the perfect habitat for a couple species of flamingoes. Here's a variety of flamingo pictures.
Along the side of the road, we saw this rabbit-looking creature called a Vizcacha. He's pretty handsome, isn't he?
Onward to Easter Island! This ridiculously remote island is known for stone statues called moai. We found this guy on the beach near the main town of Hanga Roa our first afternoon on the island. Like all moai on the island, he has been knocked over and re-erected during his history.
This statue features the red "top knot" of the later stages of statue building. I like this picture so much it is part of the cover of my novel, "The Navel of the World," set on Easter Island.
Just below the moai above, on this small beach, was a group of people getting this young lady ready to dance. We don't know what the occasion was, but it was a nice island moment.
One evening, we attended the polynesian dance show on the island. There are two troops of dancers on the island, and we chose this one; I wonder what the other was like? One day, we also saw a group of kids practicing dance in the community center, so dancing seems to be alive and well on Easter Island.
The largest collection of standing, properly arranged moai are at Ahu Tongariki. There are thirteen of the fellows, all facing away from the sea (as is traditional).
Just in case you think we were not there, here's Angela checking out the moai.
The prettiest beach on the island is Anakena. There are a few moai standing there, too. This is a behind the scenes look at the moai.
The majority of the moai never actually made it out of their quarry. You can see them standing and laying there still today. The centuries have buried them in greater or lesser amounts, so it all looks very haphazard and artistic.
More statutes. These guys rock - get it?
The island was created by three different volcanos. This is one of them, Orongo, its crater filled will water and reeds.
Let's finish with a few bird pictures.
Our final stop was in Patagonia, to hike part of the the famous triangle around Del Torres National Park. This is the first picture as we approached the entrance to the national park at dawn and got ready to start hiking.
Angela admiring the nearly unbelievable mountains.
To say the mountains are popular with cameramen is a significant understatement.
Another view of the mountains.
OK, I was a little out of control taking mountain pictures.
This waterfall is deep in the national park.
A lovely double rainbow in the park. I used the "panorama" mode on my cell phone to get a wide enough picture because the rainbow felt like it was just outside the window of the car.
Our favorite mammals near the bottom of the world are the guanaco. You can see that I got a little carried away taking pictures of them, too.
We saw a coyote wandering the park, too.
And we saw the large flightless bird of South America, the Rhea. It's like an osterich or an emu, but with a little Latin flair. Here's pictures of some other birds that I can't identify.